At a glance
Math games are a fun way to practice math skills.
Different types of math games help with different skills.
Playing these games can help your child feel less anxious about math.
If you ask your child to sit down and do math homework, what happens? Many kids will complain. Others might start off OK but quickly get frustrated, especially if they have trouble with math. But there are ways to have fun and build math skills at the same time. One way is by playing games. Read on to learn how.
Why math games work for kids
A fun math game typically has set rules, goals, and competition — either against other players or an individual score. Clear rules and goals are important, because they let kids know exactly what to do. Competition matters because it gives kids a challenge.
The best math games have just the right level of challenge. Kids have to choose and use strategies as they play. They have to problem-solve and make decisions. Kids have a chance to win, but it’s not guaranteed. That makes things fun and exciting.
A good example is the popular card game Uno. It’s easy to learn — but not always easy to win. Lots of kids (and adults) love Uno. The game helps them learn how to count and identify numbers.
Playing math games together can also help you get a better sense of your child’s strengths and challenges. And if your child wins (or just has fun) playing a math game, it can boost confidence.
Games are also a nice change from the math schoolwork your child does. But while math games are fun, they’re best for reviewing and practicing, not for teaching new concepts. To teach new things, teachers use specific strategies. They often need to spend a lot of time explaining the concept. But they might use a game to help review it.
Different types of math games
There are many types of math games, and each kind can help kids practice different math skills. This table breaks down some of the options.
Type of game
What skills it helps
Go Fish, dominoes
Keeping track of things, memory
Clue, Guess Who?
Connect Four, Battleship, chess, checkers
Spatial awareness, memory, logic
Counting, identifying numbers
Arithmetic, working with money or resources
Games also come in different formats. There are low-tech options, like board games and card games. Check out board game options for kids of all ages:
There are also computer games, like video games and apps. Check out video games to help teens and tweens build reasoning skills. And learn how to choose video games and apps for your child.
Popular board and card games, like Uno and Monopoly, can help kids with math.
A good math game has just the right level of challenge for your child.
Math games are best for reviewing and practicing skills, not learning new concepts.
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About the author
About the author
Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.
Brendan R. Hodnett, MAT is a special education teacher in Middletown, New Jersey, and an adjunct professor at Hunter College.